Following Bruckner’s “Wagner Symphony” on 4th September we now have Wagner himself with the final act of the penultimate evening from the Ring des Nibelungen, the last towering high point before the downfall of Götterdämmerung – presented by the orchestra of the Deutsche Oper with the renowned Wagner specialist Donald Runnicles conducting. Beginning with Wotan’s helplessness, the third act of Siegfried escalates through conflict and combat, base intrigue and heroic strength to a great celebration of the love between Brünnhilde and Siegfried, one which no wall of fire can restrain from its erotic consummation. Anton Bruckner was present in Bayreuth for the world premiere of the Nibelungen tetralogy in the summer of 1876. He experienced the raptures of the Wagnerian community and was invited to Wahnfried on numerous occasions.
As a result this evening of opera in concert form fits seamlessly within Musikfest Berlin’s Bruckner series. As with the major works of the symphonic composer from Linz, it is counterpointed with works by Bernd Alois Zimmermann: Stille und Umkehr stands in contrast to Wagner’s Siegfried’ finale as a piece that is reticent, gentle, a fantasy of colour in and around one key, aiming not for ecstasy but internalization. Photoptosis is Greek for “incidence of light”. In Zimmermann’s composition this refers to changes of colour, in an “inner dramaturgy of the gentlest shades of tonal colour, beginning with a minimum of light coming in and reaching a maximum at the end of the work.” (B. A. Zimmermann)